Robbie Smithwick's strategy for winning the 28th annual Peninsula Amateur Golf Championship has more to do with Canadian bacon, pepperoni and pineapple than it does chips, drives and putts.
He'd just better hope the rest of the championship flight is hungry when the final round of the three-day tournament begins today at 9 a.m. at Birch Ridge Golf Course.
Smithwick, who runs Pizza Boys in Soldotna, aims to hinder the rest of his flight by getting the players stuffed with pizza before they take the course.
His first priority is Aaron Dexheimer, who leads the Peninsula Amateur with a two-day total of 149 and, according to Smithwick, had a weakness for Canadian bacon and pineapple pizzas.
Two strokes in back of Dexheimer is Nolan Rose, a pepperoni man. Smithwick is five shots off the lead, and he'll be hurt by pizza because he has to work until 1 or 2 a.m. Finally, Joe Blanchard, who has an affinity for cheese pizza, rounds out the championship flight and is 11 strokes off the lead.
Dexheimer, 20, grew up in San Diego but is in the area to help his dad, Steve, with commercial fishing. He has played in the Peninsula Amateur twice before, finishing second when he was 17 and third when he was 16.
After playing golf the past two years at the University of Nevada-Reno, Dexheimer will transfer to California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Calif.
Both on Friday and Saturday, Dexheimer was on his way to running away with the tournament until running into problems with his tee shots on the last eight holes.
Dexheimer was 4-over-par on the last eight holes en route to a 4-over 74 on Friday, and was 5-over on the last eight holes en route to a 75 Saturday.
"Tomorrow, I just want to play one shot at a time," Dexheimer said. "I'll hit it good on the last eight holes and see what happens."
With three players within five shots of each other, bounces on greens, and not pizza, could end up deciding the winner.
Like other courses in the state, Birch Ridge's greens were hurt by a late cold snap. The resulting scars in the grass make putting an adventure.
"It's tough because you have to get the ball really close in order to be sure you'll make it," Dexheimer said. "I've had a bunch of putts from 5 or 6 feet for birdie, and I've only made two of them.
"I only made two, and those were from 2 feet."
Even with the suspect greens Rose, a recent graduate of Skyview High School, managed a 2-over 72 to get back into contention. It was a big improvement over Friday's 79.
"I just couldn't string any good shots together (Friday)," said Rose, who will attend Lower Columbia Junior College in Longview, Wash., and play basketball this year. "I'd hit a good one, then I'd hit a bad one."
Rose, who's never won the Peninsula Amateur, said he can't concern himself with what Dexheimer does Sunday.
"He hits it so good that I can't worry about what he scores," said Rose, whose driver doesn't carry as long as Dexheimer's 3-wood. "I've just got to play my own game."
Tom Allison finishes up on the 18th hole Saturday during the Peninsula Amateur Golf Tournament.
Photo by M. SCOTT MOON
Rose also said that his seven-stroke improvement in one day proves that Smithwick and Blanchard aren't out of the tournament yet.
"I'm in it," Smithwick said. "I don't know if I can do it or not, but I might as well give it a whirl."
The ladies flight has just three people playing in it, but the three are all relatively close to each other going into the final day.
Carolyn Turkington leads with a two-day total of 198, while Jane Tongen is at 204 and Myrna Cowan is at 208.
Turkington, who hasn't played in the Peninsula Amateur in six years, came into Saturday three strokes behind Tongen and one ahead of Cowan, but she fired a 96 Saturday to take command of the tournament.
In the first flight, leader John Tongen has a two-day total of 171 for a one-stroke lead over Mike Hollingsworth and a two-stroke lead over Jay Kriner.
In the second flight, Jerry Norris and John Davis are tied for the lead with two-day totals of 179.
Finally, Ray Hamby and his two-stroke total of 188 command the third flight by nine strokes.
28th annual Peninsula Amateur Championship
at Birch Ridge Golf Course
Aaron Dexheimer 74-75--149
Nolan Rose 79-72--151
Robbie Smithwick 75-79--154
Joe Blanchard 82-78--160
John Tongen 86-85--171
Mike Hollingsworth 88-84--172
Jay Kriner 86-87--173
Tom Allison 93-82--175
Mo Redford 90-89--179
Josh Lansing 97-90--187
Jerry Norris 88-91--179
John Davis 89-90--179
Zach Cowan 89-91--180
Phil Turkington 90-92--182
Dave Stein WD
Ray Hamby 92-96--188
John Lansing 98-99--197
Richard Atuk 94-105--199
Don McGhee 100-101--201
Gary Dawkins 105-104--209
Carolyn Turkington 102-96--198
Jane Tongen 99-105--204
Myrna Cowan 103-105--208
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